Liberal, KS

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Update from Topeka with Rep. Shannon Francis

Joe Denoyer - January 24, 2023 8:14 pm

The Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership (KARL) program was in Topeka this week. Our house district has two leaders participating: Carl Clawson of Plains and Eli Svaty, Executive Director of the Seward County Economic Development Corp. This program is a two-year program that identifies, prepares, and connects aspiring leaders to spark action that will positively impact Kansas agriculture and rural communities.
Below is a short list of some other leadership programs available in our area and Kansas. These programs can help you transform our community. If you are interested, I encourage you to apply to the one that best meets your needs and interests. Some have virtual options. Let me know if I can help you make contact or support you with a letter of recommendation.
Liberal has its own local leadership program called LEAD. LEAD teaches 21st century leadership capacities so participants are better prepared to strengthen and transform our community. It is a biannual, six-session leadership training course designed to challenge and motivate both experienced and aspiring leaders from all backgrounds and vocations.
Leadership Kansas is a statewide program that was designed to enhance and motivate future leaders from various Kansas communities. It is one of the oldest & most prestigious statewide leadership programs in the country.
The Kansas Leadership Center equips people with any title or role to lead and engage others. And when everyone leads, individuals, organizations and communities make more progress on what matters most.
Seward County Community College President Brad Bennett and Luke Dowell, Vice President of Academic Affairs, were in Topeka this week. We had a great conversation regarding the nursing program, construction trade programs, commercial driving license program and funding challenges. SCCC is a vital provider of workforce training in our area. We also talked about unintended funding challenges that could result from a recent affiliation initiative between Ft. Hays State University, North Central Kansas Technical College and Northwest Kansas Technical College.
This week in the Transportation Committee I had hearings regarding railroads in Kansas, The Kansas Department of Transportation, and the Kansas Turnpike Authority. There was a lot of conversation about how to minimize trains blocking railroad crossings. The Federal Railroad Administration has a website to report blocked crossings. The web address is: When Acting Secretary of Transportation, Calvin Reed, spoke to the committee we discussed using state cost share programs and the new Federal BIL infrastructure program to partner with local governments to build more railroad overpasses in communities. These are complex, expensive projects. I also talked with Secretary Reed about the need for our major freight corridors to be improved to four lane rural expressways.

This week the Transportation Committee will have hearings on the need to expand middle mile fiber to bring open access internet exchange points (IXP) closer to you. Currently the only open access IXP’s are in Kansas City. This can increase internet speeds and bring down the cost of rural broadband to you! The Kansas Department of Transportation currently has funds appropriated for middle mile fiber. We will also hear about the growing usage of Electric Vehicles and the State’s Pilot Project to study fees for these vehicles. Currently you pay 24 cents of state tax per gallon of gas for your car. We need to level the playing field so EV’s are contributing their fair share for maintaining our roads.

This week the Transportation Committee will have bill hearings on:
HB 2019 Establishing conditions for when a driver is an independent contractor for a transportation network company. A Transportation Network Company is a company like Uber or Lyft.
HB 2020 Providing that the employment status of a driver of a motor carrier does not change as a result of the inclusion of safety improvements on a vehicle.

Jennifer Forrester This year my committee and office assistant is Jennifer Forrester. Jennifer has a great background as a Senate committee assistant, corrections officer and with the National Guard. She will be the friendly voice on the other end of the phone when you call my office. You can reach her at [email protected] or (785) 296-7466.
Pages The Page program is designed for students in middle school, junior high or the first years of high school. Working as a page in the Kansas Legislature is an excellent way to learn more about the legislative process. If you or someone you know is interested in serving as a page, please contact me or Jennifer for more information.
Constituent Services
Thank you for the opportunity to continue serving working families in Seward and Meade County. Please reach out to me any time I can assist you with a state agency concern. I do ask that you send the request to me by email. This ensures that I get the information correctly to the agency we are working with. You can reach me when I’m in Topeka by email at [email protected], by phone (785) 296-7466, or by mail at 300 SW 10th Avenue, 274-W, Topeka, KS 66612


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